Kid Invasion: Why Not Bring Kids to a Brew Pub?

Check out this follow-up  on the Federalist  We Bring Our Kids To The Pub


Good brew pubs have relaxing atmospheres that invite conversation and fun.  Part of this includes bringing your kids.  Heck the brew pubs often make and push root beer.  Root beer!  I loved that stuff when I was 8.  Which is precisely my point.  The brew pubs encourage comes to visit.  Many have board games and kid toys just to keep them occupied.

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Patti Smith:
…that should be amended to adult conversation and adult fun. Because grownups needs grown up time. When I was a kid, my parents had my grandparents babysit me, or hired a neighbor to watch me. Then they went out and did I know not what, but it involved grown up people drinking and smoking. I didn’t get to come to their dinner parties. I didn’t get to go to the club with them (it was the 70s, so God only knows what craziness was going on!)


I know that my opinions will piss off a lot of my friends with kids, but please understand where I am coming from. Don’t adults want adult time? And what better place than a brewpub??

I understand that the breakdown of the neighborhood, the breakdown of schools (thanks to schools of choice and such), the breakdown of the extended family…I get that all of this makes it hard for parents to find caregivers for their kids. But come on…don’t moms and dads want date nights? Aren’t there plenty of places to take kids where you can get a craft beer (Arbor, Grizzly, etc)?


I should say that I make a distinction between restaurants and brewpubs. If you focus on food (Arbor Brewing, Grizzly Peak, Jolly Pumpkin), have booths and wait staff, then you are a restaurant. I don’t mind kids being in restaurants. I object to kids being in pubs where the focus is on the beer (as opposed to beer and food). I don’t like to have to step over kids when I stumble about, or have them screaming in the beer garden as they climb a hop trellis—and I also worry about the liability of my friends who are brewpub owners.

Seattle gets it–they either had signs up telling parents that no shenanigans would be tolerated, clearly stated that they were 21+ ONLY or had separate sections for kids/no-kids. When I go to a brewpub, I want to have a drink with my friends and be grownups.

When I’ve tried to talk about this to friends with kids, they almost take it personally…like I’m saying their kid is bad. They also have said that they need this time for socializing their children. That might even be okay, but I usually see the kids on electronic devices while the grownups do their thing.

First some common ground.  Bad kids shouldn’t be allowed anywhere, restaurants, bars, brewpubs or planes – especially planes.  I’ve been in fancy restaurants expecting a nice time and a huge bill only to have it destroyed by bad parents.  If you don’t manage your kids, that makes you a bad parent with kids that are likely misbehaved.  It ruins the night for everybody.  Interesting note, during one dinner occasion the kids next to us misbehaved so poorly it annoyed my kids !

The strongest argument against kids in brew pubs is that they don’t drink.  They are a revenue loss when things get busy.  When things are slow bring ’em in I say.  Then the only issue is vulgarity.

Vulgarity of all sorts has crept into our society so steadily I doubt we are all aware of just how prevalent it really is.  I try to isolate my kids from it all the time, even during normal hours in a normal restaurant.  With that in mind, when I bring my kids to a brew pub I recognize it is focused on adults first and kids second.  I pick tables or booths away from large groups or visibly rowdy folks.  That’s just good parenting.  When it’s just me and the wife it’s a different story.

Bottom line – kids and adults can coexist in the brewpub but it takes good parents and common sense to do so.

Patti Smith:
Bad parenting is the problem, no doubt. And the good parents get thrown out like the baby in the bath water (hahahahahahaha). On two occasions, I have had to leave the Original Gravity because families were hogging the tables. The kids had juice boxes, there was maybe a pint or two on the table, and the rest was pizza and electronics for the kids.

I do want to add that I have really thought long and hard about this issue…parents have attacked me (personally and otherwise) for saying this and so I’m often hesitant to say anything. I don’t even know if it’s the kids that bother me…it’s the sense of entitlement that bothers me…. I understand if you want a good beer with your dinner–but there are places for that (restaurants, Arbor Brewing, Grizzly Peak) and I’m not saying that you have to eat at Applebee’s for the next 18 years.

Verbotszeichen Set Kinder Kind Kleinkind Kinderwagen Verbote

I think one way to do it is how a couple of brewpubs in Seattle did…where they split the space for 21+ and then everyone else.

Thanks Patti for the debate.  Let us know what you think…..

– SommBeer

Patti Smith Bio:

Very happy special education teacher. I like beer, brewing & drinking.

Twitter Bio  @TeacherPatti 

DG Barrett
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9 thoughts on “Kid Invasion: Why Not Bring Kids to a Brew Pub?”

  1. I prefer to have both options, I bring my kids into Brewpubs where the vibe is friendly and they have something to do (some even have lego and kid areas). I’ve brought my kids into a bar a couple occasions (one was a celebration of life) and they were the entertainment of the night for the patrons – again this was a safe crowd. However, there are some places that I would never take them and they always leave by 9 or 10 at the latest (with us or a babysitter). I also like the idea of kid friendly until 9 or 10pm, that stops people from making seemingly silly decisions to bring their kids places way too late when the crowds gets a bit drunk and the vibe changes ever so slightly.

    Regarding behaviour, even the best of parents kids have bad moments but as long as they are dealing with it then I am ok. Lets face it, often adults are no better if not worse behaved on many places. My perfect world is kid friendly until a certain time of day, and I certainly no problem being sat in the kid zone of the place if that’s what they do. I also have no issue with lounge areas where it is adults only in a certain section, if people want to go to a brewpub and not see kids this is a good option. Ultimately it’s up to the owner to decide on the vibe and by all means if you are kid friendly please brew your own root beer and lemonade for radlers or just plain for kids!

  2. Speaking from direct experience on both sides of this (both as a parent of formerly young kids and as manager of a brew pub) I can tell you that certain places (Ann Arbor included) are very “kid centric.” It’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a thing. My first inclination with the pub was to make it a totally kid free space. I pretty quickly learned that would not be possible, given the number of parents who simply do not want to leave their kids out of any experience. As a parent, I have also learned to judge not ’cause I am 100% positive that should the bright light of “good parent judginess” get turned on me I would fail miserably. I personally am a firm believer in overpaying great babysitters and have done so in the past so as to escape from the sticky clutches of my children on occasion. But I respect any parents’ decision not to do that.

    One interesting note, having lived overseas for so many years (WITH my kids when they were at the ankle-biter stage) the way Europeans and Asians handle kid-free space is very different. Most European countries are kid-centric in general (hence 3 and 4 and 5 month paid parental/maternity leave at most companies which is, frankly, a very civilized way to treat parents who are great employees). BUT kids are never welcomed at bars or pubs. In Japan kids were very much adored but knew their place. And it was never “out at a bar with their ma and pa.”

    Of course, in Germany people brought their dogs into 5-star restaurants which sorta grossed me out.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion! From the mom who was once caught saying “Oh, you wanna hold him? Go long.”

    1. Yeah, I am a HUGE dog lover (and dog mom, until my doggie died), I do not get bringing doggies into restaurants. My dog would have ate people’s food and then shit all over.

  3. If/when we brought children to a brewpub or even a brewery we made sure it was earlier in the day…mid afternoon before people left work. The number of patrons was smaller and the fact that the kids were there wasn’t an issue. As a parent, I think you have to be responsible for your children and respectful of others when you have your children with you. You don’t want to have your children in what can turn into a “bar” atmosphere in the evening and at the same time you’re respecting those who do want an “adult” atmosphere at the brewpub and you still get to visit the location on your terms as well.

    1. I largely agree. In truth, some environments are bad for kids at any time of the day. I walked my kids into a restaurant “up north” Michigan, opened the door and immediately heard loud cursing, yelling. The restaurant was nearby but you had to walk thru the bar. I turned around with my kids and wife – and walked out.

  4. I agree with you Patti completely. As a father of a 2 year old I would never think to bring her to a brew pub. I must say we are disappointed when we see parents with kids taking up the few spaces that are available in newly formed breweries in Michigan. After my wife and I pay for a babysitter we want a night out with adults!

    1. Thanks for the comment! When I suggest babysitters to parents, the response has often been, “We can’t afford that and a night out.” I don’t really know what to say to that. That is why I brought up the dissolution of the extended family…my parents left me with my grandparents (although they certainly could have afforded a sitter), but if there are no grandparents/relatives, then I don’t know what to say.

      1. I have noticed that parents don’t distance themselves from their kids like they did when I was young. The parents are involved with everything (helicopter parents). Let kids be kids I say.

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